There will be plenty of blame game to go around; for now, a few words in honor of Brian Dawkins

There are many majestic moments in sports. The larger-then-life, lost-in-the-lights home run from the bat of a slugging hero. The slow-motion shot that seems to brush the ceiling before descending through a barely disturbed net as time expires.

But who would ever describe one man, crashing violently into another, as a truly majestic experience to behold?

And yet, when Brian Dawkins soared through the air, arms outstretched, prey in sight – well, it was just about as majestic as it got. Seemingly suspended in air before crushing his unlucky opponent, he almost resembled an eagle.

And he’ll always be an Eagle.

dawkins-from-behind

Yes, it’s true – Brian Dawkins left us, to play for another team, the Broncos, and to inspire another city, Denver. He took his passion, exuberance, violence, sophistication, and – maybe the one that hurts more than anything else – understanding of this city and its fans right out of town.

He was one of us. Well…no, scratch that. We like to wear that one a bit too much. Surely,  we aren’t all gentlemen removed from the stands, as he genuinely seemed to be away from the field.

No, Dawk was something else, something perhaps even more important than that: he was the player we all would like to thing we would have been,were we been born with the physical gifts to get paid for playing a game. He was fiery and fearless; passionate and pulverizing; destructive and delighted. He didn’t just play because it was what he did, or because he might make more money if he had a few monster contract years. No, watching Dawk play, you always got the sense it was much more than that.

He loved it.

He loved this child’s game the same way we do. He lived for that monster hit on that incredibly unintelligent receiver who unwittingly stumbled across the middle of his field. Just like we do. He could feel the electricity in his veins, the whipping winds of fervor behind his back before every home game. Just like we do. He woke up on Sunday because that meant it was time for football.

Just like we do.

Today, I feel sad. A bit depressed, really. I know that Brian Dawkins is just an athlete, who just plays a meaningless game, that really is only meant for entertainment. I get all of that. But guys like Dawk don’t grow on trees; these past 13 years have been a treat. How many guys are such stand-up gentlemen off the field, and such ferocious and inspiring competitors on it? I shouldn’t just ask that question of athletes: how many people are there like that?

Truthfully, I don’t know. As I often do in these retrospective moments, I am getting a bit emotional. Veering toward the dramatic, I’ll admit it. (And forgive me, for I am about to continue). After all, he was an adopted son, an ambassador of the Eagles and their fans, and one helluva football player. Man, was he good.

And were the skills slipping? Yeah, he had lost a step. Is business just business? Always will be. Did Dawk make a business decision, just like the Eagles did? He sure as hell did. I’ll let somebody else play the blame game – there will always be enough willing volunteers for that. I just wanted to honor the guy that gave so much to his teammates, coaches, organization, and ultimately, his city.

Thank you, Brian Dawkins. Your time here was truly special, and I can’t wait to make the trip to Canton for your induction into the Hall of Fame. That will come. For now, statues and monuments and plaques are being constructed, all over the Philadelphia region. Don’t bother to look for them; they aren’t visible to the eye.

These are the statues of recollection. Such statues live on in the imagination, many memories chiseled away until only the fondest of them remain in our minds. These are the statues that sit beside rocking chairs on stoops, entering the conversations of old men who yearn for the great athletes of their day. The structures that emanate from the lips of future coaches so that they might relay the great lessons of sport through figures that their disciples will both recognize and admire.

And his greatest memorial – his definitive plaque, in this humble Pundit’s opinion – will always rest squarely in the heart and soul of our sports obsessed city. Brian Dawkins, #20. Philadelphia Eagles, 1996-2008. Here we remember the man who soared to great heights and spared no prey.

Here we remember a mighty Eagle.

dawkins

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3 Comments

Filed under Eagles, NFL

3 responses to “There will be plenty of blame game to go around; for now, a few words in honor of Brian Dawkins

  1. James Fayleez

    This whole “it’s a business” routine that the Eagles PR guys are spitting out will only end up turning this team into a bunch of hired guns that could care less about connecting with the fans. If management treats it like a business for every player – no exceptions – than they can expect the players to do as such also.

    There is no good reason why Dawkins wasn’t locked up before free agency began.

    • pattisonpundit

      Couldn’t agree with you more on this one. )Wait, has that ever happened before?) It keeps bringing me back to the Joe Banner statement.

      “There’s no way we can spend all of the money we have under the cap.”

      Well, Joe, if that’s the case – at least spend some extra on a guy that means so much to this friggin’ city! You’ve got the room – Dawkins is the rare exception where you don’t necessarily do the most business-savvy move, but rather reward a guy for what he has meant to your organization. Not many guys out there are Brian Dawkins – he was special. And they obviously don’t think he’s completely washed up, otherwise they wouldn’t have made any offers to him at all.

      This just really pisses me off. Oh, and great job on the Lito deal as well; wasn’t he worth a second-round pick last year?

  2. James Fayleez

    We are on the same page about the Lito deal as well.

    I heard it’s a 5th rounder this year and a conditional pick next year that could be as high as a 2nd but the conditions involve Lito’s playing time, whether he signs for certain money, etc…

    A 5th round pick for the Eagles is like not even picking at all. They are not reknown for discovering gems. And don’t give me Brian Westbrook. That was pure luck. If anybody knew Westbrook was going to be as good as he was, he would’ve been ranked higher and Andy would’ve never drafted him that high.

    In my opinion, they got the best that they could for Lito – but it’s their fault for de-valuing him to prove how “in charge” they are.

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